On October 16, 2013, the rules for telemarketers are changing dramatically. On that date the new updates to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) go into effect. The FCC made updates to the TCPA that require prior express written consent for certain types of commercial phone calls and text messages to consumers. Among other things, the new rules require that marketers have prior express written consent to autodial or send pre-recorded messages to cell phones.
The rules, which put the burden of proof on the marketer/caller, come with stiff penalties of $500 to $1500 per call or text. As you can imagine, the damages can escalate quickly. Considering that outbound dialing campaigns typically involve thousands and in some cases, millions of calls, it is typical to see multi-million dollar lawsuits for TCPA violations. TCPA filings are already up 40-60% in 2013, when compared to the same period in 2012 and that is before these new rules take effect. We expect that the new rules will cause this type of litigation to increase substantially.
These rules are a big deal for marketers for three reasons. First, many marketers that make outbound calls to consumers utilize call centers. These call centers typically use “autodialing” software to make the calling process more efficient. Second, a large percentage of consumers rely exclusively on mobile phones. Third, consumers can bring private lawsuits or initiate class action lawsuits against marketers that violate the regulations. This combination of high numbers of autodialed calls, coupled with increasingly exclusive reliance on mobile phones and stiff penalties for non-compliance, make these changes significant.
So how does a marketer comply with the new regulations? We’ve made recent updates to our TrustedForm lead certification solution to make it easy to verify and store proof of prior express written consent. For Internet leads, we see this as a 3 step process: 1) Add the proper disclosures to your web forms and obtain unambiguous consumer consent. 2) Capture and store a TrustedForm certificate with each of your leads. 3) Verify (in real-time) that the proper disclosures were present on the forms using the TrustedForm page scanning feature prior to calling/texting. Obviously you should consult with your attorney for advice on your particular situation.
To help marketers understand and comply with the new rules, we have written a comprehensive whitepaper on the topic with the law firm of Klein Moynihan Turco (KMT). To learn more about this topic and receive a copy of our whitepaper, go to http://trustedform.com/TCPA.